Best Tokyo Disneyland Attractions & Ride Guide

Tokyo Disneyland is Japan’s version of the Magic Kingdom or Disneyland. This guide to Tokyo Disneyland attractions contains short reviews and numerical scores for every ride and show in the park. If you’re planning a trip to Tokyo Disney Resort, this is a great place to start when determining what to do and when to do it. The guide will give you a rough idea of an itinerary, which is very important at Tokyo Disneyland (the itinerary will only work if you arrive no less than 30 minutes before park opening).

Unlike Tokyo DisneySea (see our separate Tokyo DisneySea Attraction Guide for more about that park), much of what you encounter at Tokyo Disneyland will be familiar. Very familiar. During its initial construction, elements of Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom were cherry-picked and duplicated in Tokyo Disneyland. Much of this is apparent even today, although since the park’s opening in 1983, almost every addition has been unique. Tokyo Disneyland isn’t nearly as unique as Tokyo DisneySea, but it’s still awesome.

Despite this, Tokyo Disneyland is arguably the best Disney castle park in the world. This is largely due to the quality of maintenance, amazing Cast Members, awesome dining options and incredible snacks options, and a couple of flagship attractions (Pooh’s Hunny Hunt and Monsters Inc. Ride & Go Seek) that redefine the Disney dark ride experience. As it exists today, Tokyo Disneyland is a bit of a “Bizarro Magic Kingdom,” with certain aspects of the park mirroring parts of present day Magic Kingdom. We hope this doesn’t downplay just how excellent and unique Tokyo Disneyland is, as it’s truly a special park. (It’s my second favorite theme park in the world, so it’s certainly much more than a Magic Kingdom knock-off!)

Like Tokyo DisneySea, entertainment is especially popular at Tokyo Disneyland, with Japanese fans putting their mats down for parades and shows over an hour in advance in many cases. Lines can also be quite long (the Oriental Land Company reported 27.5 million visitors to both parks in 2012, making Tokyo Disneyland one of the most–despite unofficial reports pegging it at number 3, I’d bet it’s the most–heavily attended theme parks in the world). Because of this, it will be a challenge to experience all of the top attractions in a single day.

The similarities between many attractions in Tokyo Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom/Disneyland make our approach to this guide a bit difficult. On the one hand, we suspect hardcore Disney fans who have the time will want to experience as much as possible to note the differences, however minute, between different versions of the attractions. On the other hand, moderate fans likely won’t care, and even hardcore fans with limited time are better served spending that time at Tokyo DisneySea.

Keep in mind that this guide is written in English on a site catering to US Disney theme park enthusiasts, so it’s written with the assumption that you’re a Disney fan. If you’re not, our recommendations might be extreme–you may be able to see all you care to see in a single day…

Top Tokyo Disneyland Attractions

Dreamlights (10/10) – Nighttime light parade a la SpectroMagic and the Main Street Electrical Parade. Dreamlights takes the light parade concept to the next level, and adds a couple of revolutionary floats to the mix, making Main Street Electrical Parade look antiquated by comparison. Dreamlights combines a great soundtrack with some plussed versions of the standard floats stateside guests are used to, and then throws some truly astonishing floats into the mix. Dreamlights is our favorite Disney parade, anywhere. It’s incredible. Stake out a spot about forty-five minutes to an hour (depending upon crowds) before the parade for the best view. Here are some of our tips for photographing Dreamlights and other light parades.

Happiness is Here Parade (10/10) – Tokyo Disneyland’s 30th anniversary parade, Happiness is Here is a blockbuster daytime parade with some lavish and large floats. We’re not normally too big on daytime parades, but we love this one. It is high energy and vibrant without being tacky, and also featured some great designs. Plus, the soundtrack is very catchy, albeit a bit bubbly (it works well). For Disney fans, there were also little Easter Eggs scattered on the floats. Stake out a spot 30-60 minutes in advance.

Minnie Oh! Minnie! (9/10) – Live show featuring Latin music and dancers, as well as Disney characters. This is basically a high energy show with performers and other characters swooning over Minnie Mouse as a very loose plot (or perhaps ‘musical motif’ is better). The costuming is gorgeous, and the human performers are really talented. Choreography is great and the songs are really catchy. Theater Orleans, where the show is performed, is fairly large, so getting a seat shouldn’t be too much of an issue except on especially busy days. Enough of the show is in English that you’ll understand what’s going on, but it’s mostly about the Latin beats and costumes, anyway.

Monster’s Inc. Ride & Go Seek (10/10) – Interactive dark ride in which guests use flashlights to trigger effects and reveal monsters. Along with Pooh’s Hunny Hunt, this is the flagship attraction at Tokyo Disneyland. Reactions to Ride & Go Seek have been somewhat mixed, but we absolutely love it and consider it in the same caliber as Hunny Hunt. Its Audio Animatronics are advanced and lifelike (well, assuming a big blue monster is somehow “lifelike”), with very fluid motions. Sets are immersive and include a ton of detail. The interactive twist of revealing monsters and other effects by shining a flashlight on them is fun (it’s optional) and adds to the re-rideability of the attraction, as you likely will not see it all on one ride-through. The Monsters, Inc. dark ride at Disney California Adventure does not hold a candle to this. We recommend running to Monster’s Inc. as soon as you enter the park (take the right side-street off World Bazaar) and get a FastPass before continuing to Hunny Hunt. Depending on crowd levels when you visit, Monsters Inc. Ride & Go Seek could be out of FastPasses by the time your second FastPass window comes around.

Pooh’s Hunny Hunt (10/10) – Trackless dark ride through the world of Winnie the Pooh. This is the gold standard for Fantasyland dark rides–you will never look at the rest the same after Hunny Hunt. The trackless ride system is key, but so are the great scenes and other effects. Hunny Hunt’s ride vehicles dance with one another and engage their environments in a way that adds an incredible amount of immersion. From the vehicles “gathering” around for storytime to bouncing with Tigger to spinning in Pooh’s dream with Heffalumps, you feel like an actual participant in this highly imaginative ride. Other than that both feature Pooh, in no way is this comparable to The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. We recommend doing Pooh’s Hunny Hunt via standby immediately after getting Monster’s Inc. Ride & Go Seek FastPasses, and also getting FastPasses for it as soon as you’re eligible (if still available).

Western River Railroad (7.5/10) – Railroad ride departing Adventureland and taking guests through Westernland and Critter Country before returning to Adventureland. Unlike other Disney theme parks, this railroad does not circle the perimeter of the park. Instead, it’s a loop departing from and returning to Adventureland. While it can’t be used as transportation between lands, it offers beautiful views of attractions and scenes, including Primeval World, along the way. Do this whenever.

The Enchanted Tiki Room: Stitch Presents “Aloha E Komo Mai!” (6.5/10) – A musical serenade from Audio Animatronics birds and Stitch in a theater-in-the-round. This combines two things that history would inform us are a recipe for disaster: a modernized Tiki Room and a Stitch Audio-Animatronics figure. After all, Under New Management was a dud and Stitch’s Great Escape is a dud. Yet, somehow, it isn’t awful. It’s not quite as good as the original, but it’s unique, and it’s nice to have variations in the attractions from park to park. This is entirely in Japanese, but there are closed caption devices for the English version. After watching it once with the closed caption device, I have since watched without. I feel it distracts from the music and visuals of the show, and plot isn’t important, anyway. Do this whenever.

Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin (9/10) – Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin takes guests aboard a dark ride voyage into Toontown in interactive vehicles that guests can spin. This is a direct clone (or close to it) of the Disneyland version, but this version looks much better. Lines can get long for Car Toon Spin, and it does not have FastPass. If you want to do Car Toon Spin, consider doing it immediately after Hunny Hunt.

Pirates of the Caribbean (10/10) – Pirates of the Caribbean is a boat-ride back in time to the days when pirates ruled the Caribbean. The attractions features Audio Animatronics pirates, including Captain Jack Sparrow, engaging in swashbuckling mayhem. This is slightly shorter than the Disneyland version of the ride, but it includes every scene present at Disneyland (including its own Blue Bayou restaurant). Its high capacity plus relative lack of popularity in Tokyo make this something you can do whenever.

Goofy’s Paint ‘n’ Play House (6.5/10) – Interactive screen-based house that you use electronic paint sprayers to repaint. We thought this attraction was fairly lame and lacking in responsiveness, but we aren’t the target audience. Kids may very well love it because they can see the result of their paint-spraying on the house. If you have kids, do it despite our score–we could very well be wrong here.

Space Mountain (9/10) – Space Mountain is a dark roller coaster through outer space. There’s some cool theming here, a blast-off tunnel, and re-entry tunnel. This is similar to the Disneyland version, except with different effects and without on-board audio. We recommend doing it, even if you’re familiar with the US versions. Do it early in the morning or use a FastPass.

Haunted Mansion (10/10) – The Haunted Mansion is a slow-moving dark ride that is home to 999 happy haunts that are dying to meet you. In the Haunted Mansion, the ghosts are the more jovial, singing type (this isn’t a “Murder House“). This is basically the Walt Disney World version of the Haunted Mansion, without the recent enhancements and with a couple different effects. The narration is in Japanese, but the visuals (and your memory, if you’ve visited other Disney theme parks) are all you really need. Haunted Mansion is located in Fantasyland, supposedly because ghost stories are “fantasy” in Japan. I think that’s a convenient excuse, and the reality is that there wasn’t a better spot for it without retooling it (a la Phantom Manor in Paris’ Frontierland). Regardless, it’s very popular, but has FastPass. In our experience, it’s the last attraction to run out of FastPass, so wait until they’re all gone for everything else, then grab a Haunted Mansion FastPass. Failing that, lines are shorter at night.

Splash Mountain (10/10) – Splash Mountain is a log flume ride that features a story from Disney’s Song of the South film, and climaxes with a big drop into the briar patch. That thrill plus great Audio Animatronics-driven show scenes make it an all-around winner. It’s similar to the Walt Disney World version, but superior in a number of ways. First, the attraction queue goes right into the inside of the mountain, with details along the way (my favorite of which is Brer Owl, who talks to guests as they wait). The show scenes are also similar to Walt Disney World, but with subtle (and sometimes extreme) differences. Definitely do Splash Mountain, even if you’re mostly skipping “similar” attractions. Splash Mountain is the third most popular attraction at Tokyo Disneyland, but it has Single Rider! We’ve waited 5-10 minutes in the Single Rider line when the posted wait has exceed two hours, so definitely use Single Rider. If you don’t want to for whatever reason, this should be your FastPass priority after Ride & Go Seek and Hunny Hunt.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (8.5/10) – Big Thunder Mountain a rollercoaster themed as a runaway mine train on a ride through the barren landscape of the Old West. Hang onto your hats and glasses, because Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is “the wildest ride in the wilderness!” Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is very similar to the Magic Kingdom version, with some minor cosmetic differences (the geyser pools, for instance). It is one of the most popular attractions at Tokyo Disneyland, and while it does offer FastPass, we recommend using FastPass on repeat visits to Monsters Inc. Ride & Go Seek or Hunny Hunt instead of this. If you aren’t using FastPass, go here immediately after Hunny Hunt, first thing in the morning for a minimal wait.

Country Bear Jamboree (9.5/10) – A stage show featuring Audio Animatronics singing bears from the South. Have you ever wondered what’s better than stereotypical bears from the American South performing in English? Those same bears who also speak Japanese! It makes them more cultured. If you’re the politically correct type who is offended by a few wry and off-color jokes by singing bears as they parody stereotypical Southern culture, you will love Country Bear Jamboree in Tokyo Disneyland…because you won’t be able to understand those jokes! In all seriousness, Country Bear Jamboree is a must-do for us even though we don’t understand all of the dialogue because its maintenance is impeccable, and its pre-show and post-show are filled with awesome artifacts. Bonus points if you visit during the summer or Christmas season, as you’ll be treated to the seasonal shows, Vacation Jamboree or Jingle Bell Jamboree. We love Jingle Bell Jamboree and we also love Country Bear Vacation Jamboree.

Mark Twain Riverboat (7/10) – A boat ride around the Rivers of America, passing through Westernland and Critter Country. It’s a great ambiance ride with some excellent views. Sunset and night cruises aboard the Mark Twain are especially awesome.

‘it’s a small world’ (9/10) – ‘it’s a small world’ is the iconic attraction featuring the children of the world and that song…in Japanese! Unless you live under a rock, you’re familiar with it. Lines are never all that long, it’s good for guests of all ages, and is a relaxing boat ride. Lines can get long at Christmas when the “Very Merry Holidays” version runs, so do it before noon if you visit around Christmas.

Jungle Cruise (8.5/10) – Jungle Cruise is a boat ride through the rivers of Adventureland that encounters hippos, lions, and piranhas, among other animals and natives, along the way. Normally, the real highlight here is the non-stop zingers of the skippers who pilot the boats. This holds true in Japan, except the experience is entirely in Japanese. We didn’t understand a word our skipper was saying, but his mannerisms were insane, and many of the punchlines were at similar points and had similar cadence as their US counterparts, so if you’re familiar with Jungle Cruise, you’ll still “get” parts of it. Jungle Cruise ended up being one of the most fun attractions we did, and we strongly recommend it. Don’t get discouraged by the “no English” thing here, as Jungle Cruise might just be more fun when you can’t understand it. Jungle Cruise received new effects last year, and now has different daytime and nighttime versions, making it an attraction you might want to experience twice. It’s very popular now, but if your time is limited, we recommend just jumping in line 20 minutes before the park closes.

Star Tours: The Adventures Continue (9.5/10) – Star Tours is a flight-motion simulator into the Star Wars world with digital 3-D video, Audio Animatronics characters, and in-vehicle effects. Star Tours features multiple storylines, with some 64 different experience combinations. The substance of the ride itself is identical to the US parks, but the queue is quite different. The coolest thing about the Star Tours queue in Tokyo Disneyland was definitely the hitchhiking droids, a reference to Haunted Mansion.

The Rest

One Man’s Dream II (5/10) – A character montage stage show in Tomorrowland. This is incredibly popular in Tokyo Disneyland (so much so that it uses a lottery system for tickets), but that’s probably because it caters to the Japanese love of characters. There’s not much semblance of a plot here, and the character choices are a bit bizarre. Still, kids are likely to enjoy it for the barrage of characters. Make sure to do the lottery if you want to experience this.

Alice’s Tea Party (5/10) – A fun and iconic diversion, although nothing special.

Beaver Brothers Explorer Canoes (7.5/10) – Guest-paddled canoe ride around the Rivers of America led by a Cast Member. Our Cast Member only spoke Japanese, but was very energetic, and the experience was great. Great views, too.

Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters (7/10) – Interactive ride through shooting game set in the Toy Story universe. This is one of the most popular attractions in Tokyo Disneyland, but it’s essentially just a better maintained version of the Disneyland/Disneyland Paris version of the attraction. If you must do it, use FastPass, but we’d strongly encourage you to skip this if your time is limited–a second or even third ride on Hunny Hunt or Ride & Go Seek is better than a first ride on this.

Stitch Encounter (4/10) – This replaced Captain EO and is an attraction English-speakers should skip. It’s similar to Turtle Talk, but with Stitch, and entirely in Japanese. We did this twice, and both times the Japanese kids in the audience seemed too shy to interact, making for an awkward experience.

Castle Carrousel (4.5/10) – Garden variety carousel located behind Cinderella Castle.

Cinderella’s Fairytale Hall (5/10) – This is a walk-through attraction in Cinderella Castle with some neat photo ops, but it can develop really long (30-60 minutes) lines. These lines move slowly and it’s crowded inside with other guests trying to get their photos next to literally everything.

Dumbo the Flying Elephant (6/10) – The popular classic spinner ride located behind Cinderella Castle in Fantasyland. It’s a classic and rite of passage for all kids, but thanks to new lighting and short waits, it’s now a fun night-time attraction for guests of all ages.

Gadget’s Go Coaster (4/10) – Way too short; recommended only for small children who can’t do other coasters. Seems close to identical to the Disneyland version, but we’re not experts on kiddie coasters.

Mickey’s PhilharMagic (9/10) – A 3D montage film of Disney animation cleverly tied together with Donald Duck. Children of the 90s are sure to love this film, but really, anyone should enjoy it. The narration is in Japanese, but the show is otherwise identical to the US version (save for some displays in the pre-show holding area), so you can safely skip it. (Despite the numerical score, this is in “the rest” because there’s really no reason to spend time on it in Japan.)

Pinocchio’s Daring Journey (6/10) – Decent dark ride based on Pinocchio. Very dated, but charming. Identical to the Disneyland version, except in Japanese. Do it before noon or after sunset for the shortest lines.

Snow White’s Adventures (5.5/10) – A dated journey through the tale of Snow White presented somewhat different than the Disneyland version. A cute attraction if you have the time. Do it before noon or after sunset for the shortest lines.

Super-Duper Jumpin’ Time (4/10) – A high-energy show aimed at kids that is–quite literally–just characters jumping around.

Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse (7/10) – Fun treehouse that can be quickly explored as a nice change of pace from doing rides. It offers a great view of Cinderella Castle, and never has a line.

Tom Sawyer Island (7/10) – An entire island play area for kids that harkens back to a bygone area. It’s really well done, and a great place for kids to blow off energy. Adults may enjoy the tranquility of the island, too. Hard to imagine that you’re in the most populated city in the world here.

This leaves out roaming atmospheric performers like the Tokyo Disneyland Band, seasonal entertainment like A Christmas Fantasy and Hippiti-Hoppiti Spring Time, character meet & greets, and the dinner shows in Polynesian Terrace and the Diamond Horseshoe, but it’s all of the significant, year-round attractions. If you have the time, try to do every attraction, but if not, you’re probably fine skipping the attractions that are near-clones to Magic Kingdom or Disneyland!

If you’re thinking of visiting Japan for the first time and are overwhelmed with planning, definitely check out our Tokyo Disney Resort Planning Guide. It covers much more than the parks, from getting there to WiFi to currency and much, much more. For more photos and an idea of what we did day-by-day during our first visit, read our Tokyo Disney Resort Trip Report.

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Your Thoughts…

This post is a work in progress as part of our Tokyo Disney Resort trip planning series, so what other questions do you have about Tokyo Disneyland? If you’ve been, which attractions are your favorites? Which ones do you skip? Do you agree or disagree with our ratings? If you haven’t visited Tokyo Disneyland yet, which attractions are you most excited about? Hearing from you is half the fun, so please share your questions and thoughts in the comments!


38 Responses to “Best Tokyo Disneyland Attractions & Ride Guide”
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